The connection between Digital Experience and Customer Experience

The connection between Digital Experience and Customer Experience

Delivering great Digital Experience is the foundation of delightful Customer Experience.

To capture the expansive opportunities that digital services and operations offer, organizations should structure their operating model so as to offer a better customer experience. Studies have consistently demonstrated that companies with solid customer-centric strategies experience real, long-term benefits.

According to a Capgemini Report, 8 in 10 customers are willing to pay more for better customer experience. Additionally, the report states that more than 75% of the organisations believe themselves to be customer-centric while, unfortunately, only 30% of consumers agree on this.

Nearly 31% of businesses face challenges while keeping up with new customer expectations.

Going by the data, are organizations missing something?

Are digitization and CX alter egos or stark nemesis?

Let’s find out!

Current State: Digital Experience

Once thought to be the salient offering of primarily a tech-company, simple, immediate, and individualized experiences are becoming a key focus of all organizations. Even traditional B2B players in sectors such as chemicals and steel are taking progressive steps to revamp their CX strategy. The early adopters of new products and services that are primarily technology-driven are looking for more sophisticated solutions and superior service. And, organizations are expected to advance and refine their digital solutions accordingly.

Talking about the prominent points of importance when it comes to UX, a McKinsey report states that 70% of app users preferred added functionality over “look and feel” of the app. Further, 61% of customers said that they were more likely to buy from companies delivering custom content. Additionally, more than one-third of the customers reported that online reviews play an important role in their buying decision, almost as important as personal recommendations. They also admitted that they expected help within 5 minutes of reporting an issue.

And customers take late reply seriously and often report it on major social platforms. Here’s an instance:

What must organizations do?

The expectations of customers will continue to evolve at a fast pace. The tech-team will very soon also be responsible for movements in the top-line where the technological capabilities of companies will be integrated with their marketing approaches and operating efficiency. Companies must not blindly invest in technologies just for the sake of adding a few fancy titles on the website and the brochure. Rather, they need to rethink traditional models that hinder growth. They must fine-tune technologies and internal strengths to deliver the experience that users actually need and wish for. Companies that are able to fine tune their end-to-end digital customer journey will deliver CX based on a customer-centric vision.

Now that we know what to do, comes the most important question – How?

The Problem – building a new-generation operating model

Strong individual silos existing in organizations hinder cross-functional operations. This, in turn, restricts organizations from looking at all touchpoints in the customer journey. Besides, when most organizations are asked to digitize, they start with their own systems and processes rather than starting from the end-user or customer’s perspective.

Unfortunately, we are so focused on the solution that we often forget to think about customers. You would, many times, hear a CEO of a startup come up with brilliant plans on how he and his team want to revamp the entire website because they think that it would increase conversion. However, if someone were to ask him what data is prompting him to make such a decision, or what would be the expected month-on-month growth in website traffic and conversion once the changes are rolled out, more often than not, the question would be followed by an awkward silence.

Most of the bigger organizations are still adopting the waterfall model in delivering big projects and they have resources working through one or two years at a stretch. However, they fail to test and iterate change in a manner more closely tuned to market changes. In other cases, the top management still is apprehensive of the need for implementing digital solutions.

The primary reason for this, perhaps, is their age. A witty but insightful person had once mentioned that the technical efficiency of a project team is inversely proportional to the average age of people in the room. Though witty, the statement applies in most business scenarios.

Companies don’t require superficial changes. They need an overhauling transformation!

Solution – implementing an integrated technology operating model

Unfortunately, there is a strong disconnect between the digital and IT teams. A case in point is a typical startup. Most of the times the digital customer success teams need help from IT to troubleshoot some frontend or backend issues. The same applies to the sales and digital marketing teams as they no longer operate in silos. However, the tech team is often unsure of the promises delivered to customers. Sometimes, there are last moment clauses that are included to seal the deal.

However, in tech terms, the timeline gets extended as more development time is required while other projects are waiting to be shipped. Further, fragmented technology stacks can put pressure on the overall system stability, scalability, and resilience. The physical split between digital and IT groups can create confusion among business stakeholders about the tasks that each team is handling. Therefore the solution is to implement an integrated digital operating model with customer at the centre of all decision making and technology as the tool to their disposal. It’s important that the internal silos are broken down, bringing together the digital and IT projects across different org. functions into a streamlined, iterative digital operating model. 

Success Factors in Transforming Customer Experience

According to the McKinsey report, the following are the keys to delivering superior digital customer experiences.

  • designing and digitizing customer journeys
  • increasing speed and agility in insight generation
  • achieving customer adoption of digital customer journeys
  • developing agility in delivering journey transformations

A few components that are required for the success of such initiatives are commitment and resolution on part of the top-management, cross-function collaborations, agile delivery of technology, and all-journey transformation phases. Once achieved, there can be a top-line increase of 15% and a decrease in costs by 20%.

Design thinking approach in customer journeys

This approach has been successful for multiple organizations. According to a study, 86% of the design-led companies say that the design team is often involved in developing the digital customer experience strategy. Moreover, 46% of the leaders say creating an emotional bond with customers is a defining characteristic of advanced design practice. Further, 91% of the design-led companies listed design as a critical component of digital CX strategy.

This process takes you through the entire customer journey rather than focusing on the end result. Customer preferences are the starting point for this framework and new designs are immediately tested and iterated based on customer feedback. Customer journeys are furnished in an interactive prototype, which can be redesigned further based on customer opinions. One thing to remember is that this process should allow for seamless integration with existing channels including non-digital journeys. Also, legacy processes should not be scraped off until the new processes are tested thoroughly and are completely functional. Approaches like zero-based journey redesign, or designing a customer journey from scratch can be ambitious and change the entire process structure.

For example, in an account-opening process at a large bank, 15 process steps were eliminated, making it easier for customers to open a bank account. This was done using an identification system using a face-recognition software through web and mobile. The entire initiative took the physical customer journey on digital platforms.

The results – This effort boosted the self-service sales by 33% (from almost zero) with 50 per cent higher conversion rates and a reduction in cycle time to ten minutes.

Learn more about delivering great customer experience by design, not by accident from this recent CX Conversations episode:


Achieving digitization is one part of the battle. But, if it doesn’t stimulate customer adoption (due to reasons such as sales, speed, and in-person contact), efficiency gains and cost savings are seriously limited. Though there is no “silver bullet” for increasing adoption, a combination of different levers and iterating approaches can do the trick. A few of them are:

  • Informing the customer using a well-formed mix of traditional and digital-media techniques
  • Pooling relevant content on one platform and making the digital journey easy and relevant
  • Testing. Iterating. Rinsing. Repeating
  • Providing incentives for customers to use the digital medium, such as cash-backs

Thus, it is evident that to increase customer adoption of digital journeys, the business-unit, IT and the digital teams have to work with coherence and find a targeted solution using multiple levers.

Are there any specific domains that you suggest organizations should pay attention to while going digital?

Let us know in the comments below.

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